2 Corinthians 9: The Indescribable Gift
May 10, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
This chapter continues Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians (and us) about generosity. How does he teach about generosity?
First, he encourages the Corinthians. Sometimes we can only ever hear the “ask.” But Paul takes the time to point out how generous the Corinthians have been. It is worth encouraging people when they are being generous and to encourage even initial first steps towards generosity. Encouragement is a much under-emphasized key to much in the Christian life, and here Paul encourages the Corinthians in what they have done so far – which of course will motivate them to continue.
Second, he makes practical arrangements. He sends a team to help with the collection. Paul is not afraid to initiate conversations about this “Jerusalem gift” (see the previous chapter’s devotion) and to have a team sent to the Corinthians to help with its collection. We should not be so super-spiritual that we neglect making practical arrangements for generosity among the churches.
Third, he teaches the principle of sowing and reaping. This section in the middle of this chapter does not mean that if we give financially we will necessarily reap financially. God’s economy is bigger and better than mere financial riches. Nor does it mean that there is a one-to-one relationship between how much we give and how much we receive – love, grace, mercy. But still there is a law of the harvest. When we sow, we reap. What we sow, that we will reap. The person who is generous with their resources – time, talent, treasure – will find that they are given by God more resources from which they can be generous. This law helps us run from the fear that we will run out if we are generous. Remember the law of the harvest. Seed must be sown to produce harvest. Giving is an investment, a sowing.
Fourth, he ensures that the Corinthians know the positive and impactful results of their generosity. It is important to know that your giving has an impact. Paul describes how their generosity will cause a spiritual fruit. We should take the time to describe what a difference generosity makes to the progress of the gospel.
Fifth, Paul places the praise in its rightful place. Often we say to those who are generous “thank you” – and we are certainly right to do so. Paul also encourages the Corinthians for their generosity, as we have seen. But ultimately all comes from God. And our generosity is only made possible by the grace-gift of our gracious God, all ultimately expressed in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So Paul concludes his teaching on giving with locating the source of the giving in God and therefore ends with praise: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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